In-Depth Prediction, Preview, and Odds
Colts vs. Texans Prediction
NRG Stadium, Houston
Table of Contents
- Introduction & Team Review
- The Running Game
- The Passing Game
- Final Outlook & Prediction
- Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com
- Latest Updates, Injury Reports, & Line Movements
- Insiders' Best Bets
Last Updated: Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 11:03am EST
The top spot in the AFC North is up for grabs when week 12 of the NFL schedule kicks off in the Lone Star State. The Indianapolis Colts are on the road as they travel to face the Houston Texans Thursday night. Indianapolis comes in off a 33-14 win over Jacksonville at home Sunday afternoon. Houston was walloped 41-7 on the road by Baltimore in their last game on Sunday afternoon. The Colts lead the all-time regular season series 27-8 and have won the last five meetings. That includes a 30-23 home win in the first matchup this season on October 20.
Indianapolis Colts Review
Indianapolis has been pretty solid this season as they enter this week 6-4 and atop the AFC South. The Colts opened the season with a tough 30-24 overtime loss on the road to the Chargers before bouncing back with two straight wins. Indianapolis dumped Tennessee (19-17) on the road and edged Atlanta 27-24 at home. That was followed by a 31-24 home loss to Oakland in their week four contest. The Colts then handed the Chiefs their first loss of the year with a 19-13 victory on the road heading into their bye week. After the bye, Indianapolis beat Houston (30-23) to gain sole possession of the AFC South lead. That was followed by narrow defeats to Pittsburgh (26-24) on the road and Miami (16-12) at home leading into last week’s game against Jacksonville.
The Colts welcomed back Jacoby Brissett, who was injured against the Steelers and missed the Miami game with a knee injury. Indianapolis used their power run game to dismantle the Jacksonville defense. The Colts ran the ball 36 times for 264 yards in the contest with Marlon Mack (14 carries, 109 yards, TD) and Jonathan Williams (13 carries, 116 yards) each going over the 100-yard mark on the ground. It marked the first time that the Colts had two 100-yard rushers in the same game since Albert Bentley (17 carries, 100 yards) and Randy McMillan (20 carries, 112 yards, two TD) pulled off the feat in a 49-17 win over the Bills on October 6, 1985. Indianapolis outgained Jacksonville 389-308, picked up 23 first downs while allowing 15 and controlled the clock by a 33:52 to 26:08 margin in the contest. That helped offset that they turned the ball over twice while forcing just one takeaway: they did have a defensive two-point conversion in the final minute. The news wasn’t all rosy as Mack left with a broken hand: he had surgery Monday and is out indefinitely.
Houston Texans Review
Houston has been involved in a lot of tight games this season with six of their eight contests decided by seven points or less at this point of the season. The Texans are 3-3 in those games, but back to back losses by the Colts pushed them into the top spot in the AFC South. Houston dropped their opener on Monday Night Football, losing 30-28 to the Saints on a 58-yard field goal as time expired. The Texans bounced back with wins over Jacksonville (13-12) at home and the Chargers (27-20) on the road. Houston was defeated 16-10 at home by Carolina before rebounding with a home win over Atlanta (53-32) and a road triumph over Kansas City (31-24) before their loss to Indianapolis (30-23) on the road in week seven in a battle for the top spot in the AFC South. The Texans bounced back by sneaking past the Raiders 27-24 in week eight before whipping Jacksonville 26-3 in their final game before the bye. Coming out of the bye, that set up their game against Baltimore.
To say the game against the Ravens was a nightmare would be an understatement. The Texans were beaten from pillar to post as they were unable to get anything going offensively. Houston also struggled to slow down Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore offense. A non-call on a fourth-down pass to DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone that seemed to be blatant pass interference seemed to take the wind out of the Texans’ sails. Houston was outgained 491-232, gave up 25 first downs while picking up 16 and was whipped 36:19 to 23:41 in time of possession. The Texans also committed the lone two turnovers in the contest: their lone score came on a 41-yard touchdown run by Carlos Hyde with 7:10 to play in the game.
*Full preview and prediction coming Tuesday*
The Running Game
Indianapolis Colts Running Offense
Houston Texans Running Defense
Indianapolis Colts Running Offense
Indianapolis has been effective on the ground so far this season. The Colts are going to stick with the ground game and try to run the ball down opposing teams’ throats. Gone are the pass happy days with Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck under center: with Luck's retirement in the preseason, the team had to pivot to a more run-oriented system. That has led to a heavy dose of the ground game this season as the team has run the ball at least 23 times in every game this season while going over the century mark in seven of their 10 contests. Indianapolis has run for at least 109 yards in each of their last four games, including last week’s season-high 264 yards against the Jaguars.
Marlon Mack leads the team on the ground with 192 carries for 865 yards and four scores on the season. Jordan Wilkins has added 27 carries for 165 yards while Jacoby Brissett (39 carries, 122 yards, two TD), Jonathan Williams (15 carries, 117 yards) and Nyheim Hines (25 carries, 77 yards, TD) have had their share of chances to move the ball on the ground. On the season, Indianapolis has 10 rushing plays that have covered at least 20 yards: Mack has seven while Parris Campbell (four carries, 34 yards), Williams and Wilkins each have one. The Colts have moved the chains 81 times via the ground game this season.
Houston Texans Run Defense
Houston struggled in stopping the run game for the opposition to start the season. Things have gotten better for the Texans on that front as the team has improved in both the rushing yards allowed and the yard per carry average they've given up each week. Against the Saints, Houston allowed 148 yards and a seven-yard per carry mark to open the season. The Texans gave up 103 yards and a 4.9 yard per carry average against the Jaguars in week two but hadn’t given up more than 95 yards in any of their last seven games. Houston saw that streak come to an abrupt end as they saw Baltimore run for 263 yards against them last week. That, by far, was the worst showing by the Texans’ defense this season.
Linebackers Zach Cunningham (55 solo tackles, two fumble recoveries) leads the team with 79 tackles on the season. Bernardrick McKinney (68 tackles, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries), Justin Reid (54 tackles), Johnathan Joseph (38 tackles) and Whitney Mercilus (34 tackles, four forced fumbles, fumble recovery) are effective when it comes to ruining opposing offensive plays. Mercilus leads the team with 12 tackles for loss while Cunningham and J.J. Watt (24 tackles, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries) each add 6.5 tackles for loss. As a team, the Texans have recorded 48 tackles for loss, forced 13 fumbles and recovered nine this season. Watt was lost for the season when he suffered a torn pectoral against the Raiders.
- 4th in run play percentage (47.26 percent)
- 4th in rushing attempts per game (31)
- 4th in rushing yards per game (141.1)
- 10th in yards per carry (4.6)
- Tied for 20th in rushing TD (seven)
- Tied for 10th in longest rush (63 yards)
- 4th in percentage of run plays against (35.21 percent)
- 4th in run plays per game against (21.9)
- 13th in rushing yards allowed per game (102)
- 24th in opposing yards per carry (4.7)
- 2nd in rushing TD allowed (four)
- Tied for 19th in longest rush allowed (63 yards)
Who has the Edge?
Houston had been on a roll stopping the run but we saw what happens when a team committed the ground game takes the field against them. The Ravens ran around, over and through the Houston front seven, who gave up more yards than they had in any of their other games this season and it wasn't even close. Indianapolis has been effective on the ground and Williams stepped right in when Mack went down against Jacksonville. With the Colts' offensive line, you have to give them the upper hand here.
Advantage: Indianapolis Colts
Houston Texans Running Offense
Indianapolis Colts Running Defense
Houston Texans Running Offense
Houston, despite losing Lamar Miller in the preseason to a torn ACL, has been able to move the ball on the ground fairly well this season. The Texans made a couple of trades to add Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr. to the mix and they have paid dividends for the team. Houston has gone over the century mark on the ground in nine of their 10 games this season, including each of the last seven. Four times they have run for at least 150 yards and the team racked up a season-high 216 rushing yards against Jacksonville in their last game before the bye. Against Baltimore last week, the Texans managed to pick up 122 yards on 20 carries even in a blowout loss.
Carlos Hyde leads the team with 158 carries for 769 yards plus four scores this season. Duke Johnson Jr. has run the ball 60 times for 327 yards plus a score while Deshaun Watson has 55 carries for 291 yards and a team-leading five scores on the ground. As a team, the Texans have 12 rushing plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season: Hyde leads the team with seven such plays while Johnson Jr. has three and Watson has two. Houston has moved the sticks 73 times via the ground game this season.
Indianapolis Colts Run Defense
Indianapolis had their struggles against the run in the early part of the season. Opposing teams cracked the 100-yard mark four times in their first six games this season. The Colts gave up at least 100 yards to the Chargers (21 carries, 125 yards) in week 1, the Titans (24 carries, 124 yards) in week 2, the Raiders (32 carries for a season-high 188 yards) in week four and the Texans (24 carries, 100 yards) in the first meeting this season. Over the last four games, the Colts have seen their rushing totals against them drop from 113 yards to 90 to 70: last week, Jacksonville ran for only 29 yards against them.
Darius Leonard leads the team with 65 tackles (45 solo) and a forced fumble on the season. Anthony Walker (62 tackles), Kenny Moore II (49 tackles, fumble receovery), safety Khari Willis (44 tackles) and corner Rock Ya-Sin (41 tackles) are among the team leaders in tackles this season. Leonard missed three games with a concussion before returning against Houston in week 6. Justin Houston (28 tackles, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries) leads the team with 9.5 tackles for loss while Walker has 6.5 and Leonard adds five. As a team, Indianapolis has 58 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries on the year.
- 9th in run play percentage (43.32 percent)
- 10th in rushing attempts per game (27.9)
- 5th in rushing yards per game (140.7)
- 3rd in yards per carry (five)
- Tied for 9th in rushing TD (11)
- 15th in longest rush (58 yards)
- 9th in percentage of run plays against (37.48 percent)
- 5th in run plays per game against (22.3)
- 9th in rushing yards allowed per game (96.8)
- 17th in opposing yards per carry (4.3)
- Tied for 7th in rushing TD allowed (six)
- Tied for 17th in longest rush allowed (60 yards)
Who has the Edge?
Houston has been pretty good moving the ball on the ground this season even without Miller. Hyde and Johnson Jr. have provided a solid 1-2 punch and the Texans have a mobile quarterback in Watson who can beat you with his legs. Indianapolis has been inconsistent against the run this season but they've been good lately in that department. The Colts are coming off their best showing against the run in the win over Jacksonville. This one is a wash when it's all said and done.
The Passing Game
Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense
vs. Houston Texans Passing Defense
Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense
Indianapolis hasn't had to rely a ton on the passing game this season as they have been aggressive running the ball. The Colts have pivoted quickly from the pass-oriented system that they ran for the last two decades to more of a run-centric system. Indianapolis has yet to crack the 200-yard mark through the air in four of their 10 games this season. The Colts threw for 190 yards against the Chargers and finished with only 146 yards against the Titans in week 2 before getting 151 yards against the Chiefs in week 5. Indianapolis does have two 300-yard games this season: they finished with 310 yards against the Falcons in week 3 and a season-high 326 yards in the first meeting against Houston in week six. Over the last month, the Colts haven’t thrown for more than 227 yards in a contest: last week against the Jaguars, they totaled 148 yards through the air.
Jacoby Brissett has completed 168 of 260 passes for 1,797 yards with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions: he has been sacked 15 times for 95 yards in losses. Brian Hoyer is 35 of 65 for 372 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. T.Y. Hilton leads the team with 32 receptions for 360 yards and five scores on the year: he’s missed four games this season and is questionable at best here. Hines is next in line with 30 receptions for 242 yards while tight ends Eric Ebron (27 catches, 331 yards, three TD) and Jack Doyle (27 grabs, 276 yards, three TD) are next in line. The team has to develop a solid secondary receiver opposite Hilton with Devin Funchess (three catches, 32 yards) on injured reserve with a broken clavicle. Indianapolis has 25 pass plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season: Zach Pascal (23 receptions, 364 yards, four TD) leads the team with seven while Hilton and Ebron each have four.
Update: (11/21): Hilton is considered "questionable" due to a calf injury but that's an improvement from being listed as doubtful in previous games. Hilton has missed the last three games after being injured during practice. He was also listed as a participant in Wednesday's practice, which makes it a possibility that he'll play. The only downside is that it's a short week. Hilton appears ready. “If I check all the boxes,” Hilton said when asked if he'll play Thursday, “me, how I feel; the doctors, trainers; and then Frank and Chris have their say.”
Houston Texans Passing Defense
Houston has been hammered by the passing game in their first seven games of the year, giving up more than 300 yards four times in that span. The Texans have been a Jekyll and Hyde team from week to week: they have been torched in the odd weeks but have been decent in the even weeks. Houston allowed 370 yards to the Saints in week 1, 318 to the Chargers in week 3, 330 to Atlanta in week five and 326 to the Colts last week. By comparison, they held Jacksonville to 213 yards in week 2, Carolina to 232 yards in week four and Kansas City to 273 in week six. Houston gave up 285 yards to Oakland in week eight though the team prevailed. In week nine against the Jaguars, the Texans gave 309 yards through the air though they were ahead by multiple scores most of the contest. Last week against Baltimore, Houston gave up 235 yards through the air but also allowed four touchdown passes.
Mercilus has stepped right in for the departed Jadeveon Clowney as he leads the team with 5.5 sacks on the year. Brennan Scarlett (29 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles) adds 4.5 sacks on the season. Watt had four sacks before going down with his injury while nose tackle D.J. Reader (32 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss) has 2.5 on the year. Joseph has eight pass defenses to lead the team while and Gareon Conley (12 tackles in three games) has six and Lonnie Johnson Jr. (30 tackles) adds five. Tashaun Gipson Sr. (29 tackles, tackle for loss) and Bradley Roby (24 tackles, forced fumble) each have four pass defenses on the season. Gipson Sr. (TD) leads the team with two interceptions while Jahleel Addae (25 tackles, two pass defenses), Reid and Mercilus have the other picks for the Texans’ defense. Houston has recorded 22 sacks, 44 pass defenses and five interceptions (one pick-six) as a team this season.
- 29th in pass play percentage (52.74 percent)
- 24th in completion percentage (62.3)
- 28th in net passing yards per game (202.7)
- Tied for 8th in TD passes (19)
- Tied for 17th in INT thrown (eight)
- 23rd in net yards per pass attempt (6.2)
- 31st in longest pass play (48 yards)
- 16th in passer rating (90.9)
- 29th in pass play percentage against (64.79 percent)
- 29th in passing yards per game allowed (272.4)
- 24th in completion percentage allowed (66.1)
- Tied for 27th in TD passes allowed (22)
- Tied for 28th in INT (five)
- Tied for 26th in sacks (22)
- 25th in passer rating allowed (102.6)
- 22nd in net yards per pass attempt (7.1)
Who has the Edge?
Houston doesn't generate much of a pass rush and that has gotten more pronounced with the injury to Watt. The Texans aren't a team that makes plays against the pass as they are near the bottom of the league in touchdown passes allowed and interceptions grabbed this season. Indianapolis isn't blowing anyone away with the passing game and a lot hinges on whether Hilton returns this week or not from his hamstring injury. If he plays, the Colts have a slight edge: without him, it's a wash as Indianapolis lacks a big-play receiver without him.
Houston Texans Passing Offense
Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense
Houston Texans Passing Offense
Houston has had to go to the air early and often this season as they were in a wild shootout with the Saints in the opener. That was followed by a defensive slugfest with the Jaguars in week 2 and then another entertaining clash with the Chargers last week. The Texans threw for 268 yards with three scores against one pick against New Orleans to start the season. Houston finished with only 159 yards against Jacksonville in week 2 and rang up 351 yards against the Chargers in week 3. The Texans struggled against the Panthers in week four, picking up just 160 yards but the passing game has rebounded since that point. Houston threw for a season-high 426 yards in week five against Atlanta followed by 280 yards against the Chiefs in week six and 308 yards against the Colts in week seven. The Texans threw for 279 yards against the Raiders before tapering down to 201 against Jacksonville before the bye. Against Baltimore, Houston totaled only 169 passing yards (110 net) and gave up seven sacks.
Deshaun Watson has completed 230 of 331 passes for 2,601 yards with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He's been sacked 31 times for 196 yards in losses on the year as the offensive line has been inconsistent. AJ McCarron misfired on his lone pass attempt and has been sacked once this season. DeAndre Hopkins leads the team with 75 receptions for 745 yards plus four scores on the year: his lone pass attempt on a trick play was intercepted. Will Fuller V (34 catches, 450 yards, three TD), Kenny Stills (26 grabs, 394 yards, TD) along with tight ends Darren Fells (25 receptions, 263 yards, six TD) and Jordan Akins (21 catches, 263 yards, two TD) are valuable options as well. The Texans have 30 pass plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season: Hopkins leads the team with nine such plays while Fuller V adds seven and Stills has six this season.
Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense
Indianapolis was strafed through the air at the beginning of the year, giving up at least 300 yards through the air in four of their first six games this season. The Colts were torched by the Chargers (333 yards) in week 1. In addition, Atlanta (304 yards) in week 3, Kansas City (321 yards) in week five and Houston (308 yards) last week have gone over the 300-yard mark against the Indianapolis defense. The Colts held the Titans to 154 yards in week two and the Raiders to 189 yards in week four. On the plus side, Indianapolis has picked up at least three sacks in six of their 10 games this season. In the last month, the Colts have held three of their last four opponents under 200 yards through the air. Last week was the exception as Jacksonville threw for 296 yards as they were behind big.
Houston leads the team with eight sacks on the season. Leonard adds three sacks while Denico Autry (18 tackles, forced fumble) and Jabaal Sheard (18 tackles) each have 2.5 sacks on the year. Marvell Tell III (16 tackles, forced fumble) leads the team with five pass defenses while Autry and Leonard are next in line with four each. Leonard leads the team with two interceptions while Moore II, Clayton Geathers (38 tackles, tackle for loss, pass defense), Malik Hooker (26 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, three pass defenses), Pierre Desir (23 tackles, tackle for loss, three pass defenses) and Ya-Sin each have one pick this season. As a team, the Colts have 25 sacks, 33 pass defenses and seven interceptions on the season.
- 24th in pass play percentage (56.68 percent)
- 5th in completion percentage (69.1)
- 14th in passing yards per game (239.5)
- Tied for 10th in TD passes (18)
- 16th in INT thrown (seven)
- 12th in net yards per pass attempt (7.2)
- Tied for 23rd in longest pass play (54 yards)
- 10th in passer rating (101.4)
- 24th in pass play percentage against (62.52 percent)
- 11th in net passing yards per game allowed (228.8)
- 28th in completion percentage allowed (69.9)
- Tied for 12th in TD passes allowed (14)
- Tied for 19th in INT (seven)
- Tied for 15th in sacks (25)
- 20th in passer rating allowed (93.8)
- 15th in net yards per pass attempt (6.6)
Who has the Edge?
Indianapolis has been good defensively but they are going to have their hands full against Houston's passing attack. Watson had success against the Colts in the first meeting between the teams this season and the Texans could have Fuller V back to play opposite Hopkins. His speed is a game-changer and makes it that much tougher to double Hopkins on the other side. Indianapolis has to generate pass rush against the Texans' offensive line to push Watson off his rhythm. Give Houston the edge as their receivers have a leg up on the Colts' secondary.
Advantage: Houston Texans
Indianapolis is in the middle of the pack, ranking 16th in the league in scoring offense as they average 22.7 points per game on the season. The Colts currently are 21st in the league in total offense with 343.8 yards per game and stand 22nd in yards per play by averaging 5.2 yards per snap. Indianapolis is 15th in the league in scoring defense as they give up an average of 20.6 points per contest. The Colts are 11th in total defense as they allow 325.6 yards per game and are near the middle of the pack, ranking 15th as they give up 5.5 yards per play. Indianapolis is tied for 23rd in the league in the takeaway/giveaway department as they are a -3 on the season.
The Colts are 8th in red zone success as they have cashed in 63.16 percent of their drives that got inside the opposition’s 20-yard line into touchdowns. Indianapolis is above average in their red zone defense: they are 10th as opposing teams have a 51.72 percent success rate as far as scoring touchdowns goes. Indianapolis is a solid 12th in the league in third down conversions as they have converted 42.64 percent of their opportunities this season. The Colts are below average in getting off the field as opposing teams have converted 39.34 percent of their third downs, which is 18th in the league. Indianapolis is 6th in the league in time of possession as they hold the ball 52.34 percent of the time.
Adam Vinatieri has rebounded from a slow start to hit 18 of 24 extra point attempts and 15 of 20 field goal tries with a long of 55. Rigoberto Sanchez has averaged 44.6 yards per punt (41.7-yard net) with a long of 60 this season. He has dropped 10 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line with only one touchback on his 35 boots. Zach Pascal averages 26.3 yards on 10 kick returns with a long of 47 while Parris Campbell has a 25-yard average on seven runbacks with a long of 36. Chester Rogers has averaged nine yards on three kick returns while he averages 9.8 yards on 14 punt returns with a long of 21.
Houston is 10th in the league in scoring offense with 24.5 points per game on the year. The Texans are 7th in the league in total offense with 380.2 yards per game and 6th by averaging 5.9 yards per play. Houston is 19th in the league in scoring defense by giving up 23.2 points per contest. The Texans are 25th by allowing 374.4 yards per game and stand 27th in yards per play as they give up six yards per play. Houston is on the plus side in the takeaway/giveaway department as they rank tied for 14th with a +1 margin in that category.
The Texans are excellent in the red zone as they are 6th in the league by converting a terrific 65.71 percent of their chances on the year. Houston is 30th in the league as they have allowed 65.52 percent of their opponents' trips into the red zone to end in touchdowns. The Texans are a solid 7th in third-down conversions by converting 44.63 percent of their opportunities this season. Houston is a dismal 28th in third-down defense as opponents convert at a 45.6 percent rate on those plays. The Texans are 9th in the league in time of possession by holding the ball for 51.23 percent of the time this season.
Ka'imi Fairbairn is 24 of 29 on extra point tries this season and 13 of 18 on field goals with a long of 52. Trevor Daniel punted 11 times for a 43.5-yard average (40.9-yard net) with two punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line but was cut on September 17. Bryan Anger has punted 22 times for a 46.2-yard average (43.7-yard net) with 10 of his kicks inside the opponent's 20-yard line and two touchbacks. DeAndre Carter has averaged 20.7 yards on 11 kick returns with a long of 28 along with 14 punt returns for an 8.9-yard average with a long of 23.
Who has the Edge?
This one is a tough one to call as there are pros and cons on both sides of the equation. Houston is good at extending drives offensively and capitalizing in the red zone. The Texans are also awful in stopping the opposition in both those categories. Indianapolis has been solid of late on the defensive side of things and they control the clock. That was the successful game plan that the Colts followed in the first meeting. Reich has plenty of experience in big games as he quarterbacked the Bills in the greatest comeback in NFL history. He's shown that he can coach well. The kicking game has struggled on both sides this season. In the end, Houston's defensive struggles and Reich's leadership gives the Colts a slight edge.
Advantage: Indianapolis Colts
The first meeting between the teams this season went right down to the wire before the Colts secured their victory. It would be hard to see this one going any differently. Clearly, the Colts will miss Mack but Williams and Wilkins should be able to step up here. After all, Houston gave up over 100 yards to Gus Edwards last week as part of the beating they took from the Ravens' run game. The Texans have to do a better job protecting Watson after he was dumped seven times last week. Indianapolis got to him three times in the week 6 win and picked him off twice. Houston has to be more aggressive defensively and force some turnovers.
According to Covers.com, Indianapolis is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game, 6-0 ATS in their last 6 vs. AFC South teams and 10-1 ATS in their last 11 against teams with a winning record. Houston is 1-4 ATS in their last five at home, 2-8 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games on fieldturf. This one is a tight one all the way but you have to have faith in the more consistent team: take the points and the Colts here.
Latest Updates, Injury Reports, and Line Movements
Indianapolis has a few injuries of note for this one that bear monitoring. As we know, Mack is out, which means Wilkins, Himes and Williams are going to see an increased workload in the ground game. Parris Campbell is also out with a hand injury, which means Zach Pascal, Chester Rogers and Marcus Johnson will be more involved. Tight ends Eric Ebron (ankle) and Mo-Alie Cox (thumb) are both questionable, which would put a ton of snaps for Jack Doyle if one or both miss the game. Backup safety Khari Willis along with corner Shakial Taylor are out while Rock Ya-Sin is questionable.
On the plus side of the ledger, the Colts are expected to get starting corner Pierre Desir back for this one. That would mitigate if Ya-Sin can't go and make things a little easier for Indianapolis. The big question mark surrounds T.Y. Hilton, who has missed the last couple of games with a hamstring injury: he practiced fully Wednesday and is questionable here. He has owned Houston in his career and would be a huge boost for the Colts' passing game.
Houston has some issues in their secondary for this contest. Safeties Justin Reid and Mike Adams are both out with concussions. That means that A.J. Moore Jr. or Jahleel Addae has to step in for Reid at the strong safety spot. Corner Lonnie Johnson Jr. is also out while Bradley Roby is questionable. That would really test the Texans' depth as it would push Gareon Conley and the recently signed Vernon Hargreaves III up the depth chart. In addition, starting free safety Gipson Sr. is questionable with a back injury. Offensively, the big question mark surrounds Will Fuller V as he is questionable making his way back from a hamstring injury.
The weather should be solid for late November football. The game-time temperature is expected to be in the high-60s for this contest with cloudy skies. Winds are expected to come from the northwest around five miles an hour with gusts up to 10 miles per hour. There is a 40 to 50 percent chance of showers in the forecast for the tailgaters. Seeing that NRG Stadium has a dome, it shouldn't be a factor once you get inside. When you get right down to it, you can't complain all that much about weather like this for football in week 12.
When the initial lines opened for this contest, Houston was installed as a 5.5-point favorite with the over/under set at 46.5 points. As of Thursday morning, the line has moved downward somewhat with the Texans now a 3.5-point favorite in the contest. The over/under has slipped down to 45.5 points in this contest. Currently, the moneyline shows Houston as a solid -180 to -200 favorite while the Colts can be found as a +160 to +170 underdog depending on the sportsbook. As of this writing, 64 percent of the bets are backing the Texans -3.5 points. When it comes to the moneyline, a solid majority, 60 percent of the wagers, are backing the Texans as the home team. Meanwhile, 72 percent of bets are projecting this one to go over the total.
The potential return of Hilton would be a massive boost for the Colts, especially against the sieve that is Houston's pass defense. Houston's secondary has struggled all season and having to deal with injury issues further complicates things. While the Colts are missing their own key pieces, it's hard to like Houston after what Baltimore did to them four days ago. Stick with the points and the Colts as they earn the victory to take sole possession of the AFC South lead.
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts +3.5Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com
Additional Insiders' Best Bets
Full-game Total Bet
Indianapolis has put up at least 24 points in six of their 10 games this season. The Colts have alternated between scoring 24 or more with 19 or less in their last six games. That could mean we're in line for a down week from Indianapolis but Houston's defense has been leaky this season. The Texans have allowed at least 24 points six times and gave up 20 points in a seventh contest this season. Houston has been effective offensively, scoring at least 23 points seven times on the year. The Texans saw a five-game string where they had scored at least 23 points come to a halt last week: can they get back on track here?
The over is 5-1 in the Colts' last 6 games following a straight up win, 4-1 in their last five after an ATS win and 11-4 in their last 15 games after accumulating more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game. Houston has seen the over go 6-2 in their last 8 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game. Given the way the first game went and how both teams can score, look for this one to end up 27-24 or 28-24, pushing it past the number.
Half-time Side Bet
Indianapolis has been pretty solid in the first half of games this season. The Colts have held the lead at intermission in six of their 10 games on the year. That includes the first meeting with Houston this season, which came at home back in week seven. Houston has held the advantage at the half just four times in their 10 games. With their secondary so banged up, it's going to be tough for the Texans to slow the Colts if they can't generate a pass rush. Take the points and Indianapolis here.
Half-time Total Bet
Both teams have had their struggles at putting points on the board in the opening half this season. Indianapolis is 16th in that category as they average 10.5 points per game while Houston comes in 24th with 9.7 points per contest on average in the opening half. Defensively, the Colts are tied for 9th as they allow only 9.3 points per game in the first half. Houston is 16th in that department by giving up 11.2 points per contest in the opening 30 minutes. The first meeting between the teams this season saw the Colts hold a 14-9 edge at the half, which would be a push on this number. Look for it to end up just under the mark with the score 13-7 or something along those lines.